Plans to demolish and build new prison in Wellingborough set for approval

Wellingborough Prison closed in 2012
Wellingborough Prison closed in 2012

Plans to demolish the existing buildings and build a new prison in Wellingborough could be approved next week.

The replacement prison would have a capacity for approximately 1,600 adult males and built to hold category C inmates.

The prison's current site plan

The prison's current site plan

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has applied for outline planning permission for demolition of the existing buildings and construction of a prison within a secure perimeter fence with access, parking, energy centre, landscaping and associated engineering works.

If approved, the buildings would include the prison entry building, visitor facilities, a learning complex, workshops, support facilities and residential accommodation.

A new roundabout on Doddington Road is proposed to provide vehicular and pedestrian/cycle access to the site, as well as the proposed car parks.

It is also proposed to provide a temporary access for construction works from this location.

The proposed site plan

The proposed site plan

The plans have led to support as well as some objections from people living nearby.

While one commenter welcomed the jobs which would be created, a number of objectors have raised concerns, including the impact on local facilities, increased traffic and access.

A report for next week’s meeting states: “The site is already established as a prison and the proposed redevelopment is within the existing perimeter fence.

“Currently due to the piecemeal development of the site the locations of the existing buildings do not make the best use of the site and the proposed scheme rationalises the site and provides a more efficient scheme that reduces the impact on the local residents in Millers Park.

“In terms of scale and height the proposed redevelopment considers the impacts on both local residents and the wider visual impact along the Nene Valley.

“The site layout is indicative only and will be subject of the reserved matters application however to enable the environmental impact of the development to be properly tested a buildings parameters plan has been produced which sets out the maximum scale of the buildings.”

As well as the outline plans, an application for prior notification of proposed demolition has been submitted.

Supporting documents say the demolition of 24 buildings would take about 10 months, with work expected to start in July and completed by April 2018.

HMP Wellingborough operated as a young offenders institute when it opened in 1963 and changed to a Category C male adults prison in 1990.

It was extended over its previous operational lifetime and had a maximum operational capacity of about 650 adult male inmates.

It was closed in 2012 due to its age, lack of fire regulation compliance and inefficiency of its infrastructure and certain accommodation blocks.

The new prison has a projected build cost of £143 million and a construction period of 18 months.

The MOJ has said it would result in about 800 staff directly being employed at the prison.

The application, which is recommended for approval, will be considered by Wellingborough Council’s planning committee at 7pm on Wednesday (April 5) at Swanspool House.